Penalties for Covid-19 violations soon to be underway in Elkhart County

NOW: Penalties for Covid-19 violations soon to be underway in Elkhart County

ELKHART, Ind. --- Steep fines for individuals and businesses who violate Covid-19 safety regulations in Elkhart County were approved today. In a battle on both sides, county officials are calling a hail mary to mitigate this virus, while business owners are left to fend for themselves while adhering to all mandatory guidelines. 

"Earlier this year, people told me, when the hospitalization rate becomes serious, I'll take this serious. Well, the rate is now at a serious point and we are overwhelmed," said Elkhart County Commissioner Mike Yoder.

Elkhart County officials do not have many choices anymore, as Covid-19 continues to spread wildly. 

There are now, penalties in place, to get residents and businesses to take this pandemic seriously, which is something officials are calling a 'last-ditch effort'.

"Our county health department has been receiving complaints about manufacturing places, their workplaces, and businesses that aren't following all the protocols. This allows us to go into businesses with a slightly heavier enforcement set of options," said Yoder. 

These enforcement options include fines that build for repeated violations. An educational warning is first, followed by a citation and $50 fine, and all the way up to $5,000 a day for those who still refuse to comply. This is where business owners begin to be rubbed the wrong way, as some feel this is a step too far. 

"The whole thing with a mandate coming through with penalties like, to me, that's just another fear tacit. It's not necessary to be creating anger between the government and business owners. We should be working together, listening, and being open to people's opinions being put on the table," said the Owner of Moringa Tree Organic Kitchen Jenny Weaver.

Weaver, a holistic naturopathic doctor, feels the mandates aren't necessary, and even to a point harmful. 

"We don't offer sanitizer at the door, because any holistic naturopathic doctor knows that amount of alcohol is destroying the good bacteria. Which we need, for our immune system to be strong," said Weaver. 

She shares the thoughts of other business owners in the county. Let us run our business as we see fit, and allow the freedoms of choice, to be left for residents to decide. 

"So a lot of customers share that, and they actually respect us more for allowing them to make the decision. As opposed to us forcing them to spray their hands and put a mask on," said Weaver. 

The Moringa Tree is being extremely healthy and safe. They are following the guidelines, but are not strongly enforcing it, as they let their customers make their own decisions. Their cleaning and mitigation procedures are different but impressive, as they provide a safe healthy environment for all comfortable dining in. 

They are well within their right, as they have been working with the Elkhart County Health Department every step of the way. 

The fines and penalties will be an adjustment for many businesses, but if you are working with health officials, and following guidelines the penalties will stay away.

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